A six-year-old cat in Wisconsin is the first confirmed case of H1N1 influenza in a U.S. pet since January 2010, according to IDEXX laboratory tests released today.
The owner of the cat had been ill with flu-like symptoms prior to the cat's illness and is believed to be the source of the infection.
A second cat in the household also developed severe respiratory disease. Despite testing negative for the virus, it is now presumed that the cat was also infected with the H1N1 strain. Both cats were euthanized after failing to respond to medical treatment.
Although the H1N1 influenza virus has been found in humans, cats, pigs, birds, and ferrets, and human to animal contagion is now documented, there have been no confirmed cases of pets passing the virus back to people.
Dog and cat owners who have been ill with the H1N1 virus should observe their pets for any flu-like symptoms, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, sneezing, coughing, fever, discharge from eyes and/or nose, and changes in breathing.
For more information about the H1N1 Flu, see the American Veterinary Medical Association's website.
Image: Cameron Nordholm / via Flickr